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HP High Court’s landmark judgment brings huge relief to children with disabilities

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umang foundation

Hat’s off to the efforts of Umang Foundation and its Chairman Ajai Shrivastva. It took years of fight for the rights of children with disabilities, but Ajai Shrivastva finally made the High Court hear the grievances of children with special needs. Court also awarded the NGO with Rs. 100,000 to be spent for the welfare of the disabled children.

SHIMLA- The High Court of Himachal Pradesh, in a landmark judgement, has directed the Himachal Pradesh Government to provide free education to the students with disabilities up to university level. The court has also enhanced the amount of their scholarship.

Now Himachal Pradesh will become the first state in the country to ensure absolutely free education. As per the disability law in India the disabled students have right to get free education up to the age of 18 years only. Now thousands of poor students with disability will be benefitted in Himachal Pradesh and the State Government is directed by the Court to enact law for the purpose within six months.

This historic judgement was delivered by the division bench of the High Court comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, taking suo motto cognizance of a letter written by Ajai Srivastava, Honorary Chairman of Umang Foundation, a public welfare trust, and a noted disability rights activist on the plight of disabled students to the Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court in July 2011. The Court also awarded Rs. one lac to the Umang Foundation to be spent for the welfare of the disabled children. The Court also granted various other relives to the disabled students.

The Bench observed,
“It is their (the disabled) fundamental right and basic human right to be housed, protected with all basic amenities, i.e. food, clothing, special health care, provision for compulsory and free education and avenues for employment.”

The Judges also said,

 

The advanced society is the one which is sensitive towards the children with special needs. It is our fundamental duty to show them path and to preserve their dignity and respect. All efforts should be made to assimilate them in the main stream and there should not be feeling amongst the disabled children that they are left alone on lonely island.

The court directed the H.P. University and other two State Universities to make necessary amendments in the respective ordinances and prospectus for providing free education to the disabled students. The court also directed the H.P. State Public Service Commission and H.P .Subordinate Service Selection Board to amend their regulations accordingly within a period of six months.

The Judges said,

 It is the duty of the State to provide free and compulsory education to the children with special needs up to University level and all the professional courses in all the educational institutions under Articles 21/ 21 –A of the Constitution of India. It is also the duty of the State to provide financial support to these children by increasing their scholarships, stipends from time to time taking into consideration the price rise/ inflation under Article 41 of the Constitution of India.

With these observations, the judges made a direction to the Government to enhance scholarships for the disabled hostellers and day scholars.

Emphasizing the need to provide latest assistive technology to the blind students to “hone their skills to be self dependent”, the court ordered to provide screen readers, screen magnifiers, speech recognition software, text-to-speech (TTS)software, optical character recognition (OCR)software, large monitors, hand held magnifiers and standalone reading machines to them.

The court censured the State Government for the short comings in the implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. The Bench said, “The Himachal Pradesh University, H.P. Board of School Education, Dr. Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, H.P. Agriculture University, Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission and H.P. Subordinate Service Selection Board have failed to provide amanuensis to the blind students as per Section 31 of PWD Act, 1995.” It directed them to provide amanuensis to the blind students as per the law.

In the judgement, the Court took a strong exception of not filling the posts of teaching faculties in the Government’s Special School for blind and deaf girls at Sundernagar and Special School for blind and deaf boys at Dhalli, Shimla run by H.P. State Council for Child Welfare and said,

Ordinarily the Court cannot issues direction for sanctioning and creation of posts, but extraordinary situation required extraordinary measures.

It directed to create and fill up various posts of teachers and other supporting staff on regular basis in the two Special Schools within six months.

However, considering the attitude of Government towards high court’s many other directions given in past, it’s really hard to believe that HP government will be able to implement anything in six-months. It’s the judiciary that has passed a highly kind judgement, but implementation lies in the hands of the same MLAs and government officials who had been ignoring the grievance of children with disabilities all these years. Our government lacks will to serve the public as well as people who are willful to serve.

Hat’s off to the efforts of Umang Foundation and its Chairman Ajai Shrivastva. Not just children with disabilities but the NGO has been fighting for the rights of destitute women and mentally ill inmates of Home for Destitute Women in Mashobara. On a number of occasions, Ajai Shrivastva has come ahead to help people in need.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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HP Cabinet Decisions Sept 24: Approval to Open Schools from 27 Sept,  Fill 8,000 Posts, Changes in Transfer Policy of JBT, C, and V Teachers

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HP Cabinet Decisions september 24, 2021

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Cabinet, in a meeting held today, has decided to open schools from September 27 for the students of 9th to 12th classes. The students of class 10th and 12th would attend schools on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, whereas students of class 9th and 11th would attend schools on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in a week. Online classes and examinations will continue for classes upto 8th standard.  

Further, the HP Cabinet also decided to create and fill up 8000 posts of Multi-Task Workers in the educational institutions under the Higher and Elementary Departments as per the provisions of the Part-Time Multi-Task Workers Policy 2020. As per the policy, these Multi-Task Workers would be provided with a consolidated honorarium of Rs. 5625 per month for 10 months in one academic year.

The Cabinet decided to amend the transfer policy for inter-district transfer of JBT and C and V teachers in the State by reducing the existing tenure from 13 years to five years, including the contract period, for transfer to another district and also increase the quota from existing 3% to 5%.

It also decided to enhance the honorarium of IT teachers outsourced in various educational institutions in the State by Rs. 500 per month from April 1st, 2021.

It also gave its approval for renaming Forest Training Institute and Rangers College Sundernagar as Himachal Pradesh Forest Academy.

The HP Cabinet gave its consent to draft a proposal for the Customised Package of Incentives for Mega Industrial Projects in the State under Himachal Pradesh Industrial Investment Policy and Rules -2019.

It gave its approval for filling up 20 posts of Naib Tehsildar in the Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis.

It also gave its approval to the policy of replacement/maintenance of damaged crash barriers in the State.

It also decided to rename Himachal Grihini Suvidha Yojna as Mukhyamantri Grihini Suvidha Yojna.

It also decided to rename Himachal Health Care Yojna- Himcare as Mukhyamantri Himachal Health Care Yojna-Himcare.

The Cabinet gave its nod to rename Sahara Yojna as Mukhyamantri Sahara Yojna.

The Cabinet gave its consent to create and fill up 10 posts of different categories in Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission, Hamirpur for its smooth functioning.

The Cabinet decided to upgrade Primary Health Centre Swarghat in Bilaspur district to Community Health Centre along with the creation of requisite posts.

It also decided to upgrade Primary Health Centre Gadsa in Banjar area of Kullu district to Community Health Centre along with creation of requisite posts to man this health institution. 

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Kinnaur Landslide: 14 Bodies Recovered in 30 Hours, Several Still Missing

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Kinnaur landslide rescue operation photos

Kinnaur: Landslide in Kinnaur district is unfolding as one of the biggest catastrophe in Himachal Pradesh as the of fatality count continues to rise. After 30 hours of the rescue operation, which was hampered multiple times due to shooting stones at the site, 14 dead bodies had been recovered till the suspension of the operation on Thursday evening. While 10 bodies were recovered on Wednesday, four more were exhumed from the rubble on Thursday.

As many as 15 persons were rescued and taken to Bhavanagar CHC for treatment.

The wreckage of the HP Road Transport Corporation bus was found scattered about 500 meters below the National Highway-5 in Nigulsari – the site of the massive landslide. The condition of the wreckage suggested there was little hope of survival of any passenger. The distraught relatives of the missing persons remained at the site, grieving with diminishing hope to see their family members alive as the rescue operation for today was suspended.

Kinnaur HRTC Bus wreckage

HRTC Bus Wreckage

The state of exhumed bodies added to the horror of the families, as well as, the rescuers. Some of the bodies were in such a state that their identification was next to impossible. While some bodies had their limbs cut off, one of them was found without the head.

As the rescue operation would be entering its third day on Friday, the death toll is likely to rise as the driver of the bus, who had survived the accident and was seriously injured, had estimated that 25-30 passengers were onboard when the landslide pushed it down the NH.

Further, there is still no sign of one vehicle (Bolero SUV), informed Director, State Disaster Management, Sudesh Kumar Mokhta. The exact number of people feared to be buried under the rubble was yet to be ascertained. According to the district administration, based on calls received from families, the number of missing people could be anywhere between 30-50.

Kinnaur rescue operation resumes

Meanwhile, some family members of the missing persons complained that while the rescue operation was initiated immediately from the Negulsari side, JCB machines took over five hours to reach the spot from the Chauri side. They complained that such a big delay was crucial and could have saved more lives.

It’s pertinent to mention that the HRTC bus had remained untraceable on Wednesday and the wreckage was found on the second day of the rescue operation. However, most passengers were yet to be traced.  

According to the Deputy Commandant, ITBP, Dharmender Thakur, shooting stones and sliding rubble posed a huge challenge for the rescue teams, which comprised of hundreds of personnel of NDRF, ITBP, Home-Guards, local police, and CISF. Undertaking this operation on a steep slope further created difficult circumstances for the teams. The lives of the rescuers were also at risk as the site remained vulnerable to reactivation of landslide.

This landslide in the Kinnaur district has become a matter of debate for geologists, environmentalists, seismologists and climatologists. Unscientific cutting of fragile mountains and blasting for the widening of roads and construction of tunnels for hydropower projects, changing patterns of rains, and seismic activity are being referred to be the reasons behind the increased incidents of landslides, especially in Kinnaur district.

At the same time, the inability of the state government to consider technical suggestions given by geological experts from time to time for mitigation of such hazards is also finding mention in the critical comments given by experts. The lackadaisical attitude of the government in the adoption of technologies, such as the early warning system developed by the IIT Mandi for mountainous regions vulnerable to landslides, is also attracting criticism.

It’s pertinent to mention that after the Kotrupi disaster – a massive landslide that had buried two buses and claimed 48 lives in August 2017-experts from IIT Mandi had carried out surveys and studies and provided several suggestions for minimizing damages, which fell into deaf ears.  

The deceased were identified as:

  1. Rohit Kumar
  2. Vanshuka
  3. Meera Devi
  4. Nitisha
  5. Prem Kumar
  6. Gyan Dassi
  7. Devi Chand
  8. Kumari Radhika
  9. Bhupender
  10. Kamlesh Kumar
  11. Lakshman Thapa
  12. Vijay Kumar

Two others were yet to be identified. The state government has announced ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 5o thousand to the injured. HRTC has also announced Rs. 1 lakh ex-gratia to the passengers of the bus killed in the mishap. 

Further, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur and several other political leader visited the spot and met the relatives of victims on Thursday. 

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Kinnaur Tragedy: HRTC Bus Wreckage Found, Death Toll Rises to 13 and Likely Rise

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Kinnaur HRTC Bus wreckage

Kinnaur-The rescue operation at the site of the landslide in Nigulsari, Nichar Tehsil of the Kinnaur district, was resumed on Thursday morning. The wreckage of the ill-fated bus of the HP Road Transport Corporation was found 500 meters below the road and about 200 meters above the Sutlej River. The pictures showed that the bus was completely crushed and torn to pieces. 

So far, 13 dead bodies had been recovered and 14 injured including the driver and the conductor of the HRTC bus, which was on its way from Reckong Peo to Haridwar, were rescued and taken to hospital. The death toll is likely to rise as the passengers were yet to be traced. According to the driver, there were 25-30 passengers in the bus when it was hit by the landslide. A Bolero SUV alongwith passengers was also missing and was yet to be traced.  

Kinnaur rescue operation resumes

The mishap occurred at about 12:30 pm on Wednesday. The rescue operation was suspended at 9 pm due to dark conditions and shooting stones, which made the rescue operation difficult.

Till the suspension of the operation, the rescue teams comprising of NDRF, ITBP, Home-Guards, Central Industrial Security Force, and local police had traced three cars and a tipper.  

The rescue teams were searching from two directions and were using drones too.   

Kinnaur tragedy drone picture

The landslide had hit about 200 meters patch of the National Highway-5 – about 10 kilometres away from Bhavanagar.

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